Ford wants to make vehicle interiors more like living rooms.
A recent patent application from the automaker published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) April 20, 2023, but originally filed October 14, 2021, shows a movable in-vehicle table placed among the seats in a vehicle cabin.
According to the patent application, the table would be mounted to a base affixed to the floor, and have a pivoting arm that would allow it to be positioned either parallel or perpendicular to a vehicle’s center line. The movable surface could also flip up, revealing a screen mounted on the underside. Ford included footrests as well.
The drawings show tables in the back of what would likely be an SUV and in place of the front passenger seat. They also show back seats mounted longitudinally in the vehicle instead of latitudinally like usual to face the table.
This is not the first time an automaker has designed an in-vehicle table. The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan once offered a fold-out table as part of an optional swiveling-seat configuration. This allowed seats in the rear two rows to face each other with the table in between. That feature went away with the introduction of the Chrysler Pacifica for the 2017 model year.
Ford hasn’t sold minivans in the U.S. in years, but it does seem interested in adding furniture to the cabins of other vehicles. It already offers fold-flat seats in the F-150 pickup truck, as well as a folding shifter that turns the center console into a flat workspace.
Ford has also tried to patent a dashboard desk and lay-down front seats. The former describes a small desk that pops out from a recess under the dashboard, while additional patent applications discuss reclining seats packaged with a retractable steering wheel and pedals to make in-car naps more comfortable. Whether any of these features make it into production vehicles remains to be seen, however. Automakers often patent ideas to secure intellectual property before locking in production plans.
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